Key Clash Preview: Bath v Gloucester

The RecDate: Friday 1st October
Kick off: 20:05
Venue: The Recreation Ground

Sitting at third in the table after the first few rounds of games, Bath will be eyeing the top of the table, perhaps temporarily, on Friday night. The heavy loss away at Franklin’s Gardens a few weeks ago aside, Bath have looked sharp so far, their new signings having slotted in well and their supporters should go into the game with a high level of confidence.

Abysmal against London Irish, yet charismatic against Wasps, you have to wonder which Gloucester side will turn up on Friday night. Bryan Redpath will hope that his team have turned a corner following their good win last weekend, but a victory against Bath at the Rec may prove to be too much to ask for.

What to expect:
One of the great Premiership derbies, renowned for its intense physicality and important bragging rights. If it’s wet we could see a war of attrition, although both teams are keen to throw the ball around and Bath might have too much in the backs.

All eyes on:
For Gloucester Charlie Sharples is still learning his trade at full back, and has shown glimpses of brilliance and ineptitude so far. With The Rec baying for blood, he will be under immense pressure from the boots of Sam Vesty and Olly Barkley. For Bath, centre Ben Williams had a very impressive game last weekend against Sale, scoring the crucial bonus point try. Steve Meehan seems to hold him in very high regard, so it will be interesting to see more of what he can do.

Head to head: Olly Barkley and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu
Two twelves playing against their former teams, Barkley’s early good season form has had the pundits rightly calling for his re-establishment in the England set-up. Fuimaono-Sapolu’s try for Gloucester last week was our try of the weekend here on the Rugby Blog, and Bath will know all too well what he can do when let loose.

Last year’s result: 27 December 2009 – Bath 24-8 Gloucester

Weather forecast: Rain forecast during the day but by kick-off it should be clear.

Prediction: Gloucester may be boosted after last week’s win but Bath should have too much quality. Expect a sell-out crowd for this crunch derby and Bath to win by 10.

By Ben Coles (@bennycoles)

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